Media mogul Oprah Winfrey is hitting back at “awful” and “fake” internet rumors alleging that she was involved in a sex trafficking ring that led to a raid and her arrest at her Florida home.
The false claims began circulating on social media late on the night of Tuesday, March 17, and Winfrey was soon the number-one trending topic on Twitter.
Amid the flurry of tweets were mentions of the former TV host’s friendship with disgraced Hollywood filmmaker Harvey Weinstein, who was recently sentenced to more than a decade in prison for sexual assault. One claim in particular floated the conspiracy that Weinstein, 67, cut a deal to expose all his Hollywood friends’ dirty laundry, including their alleged involvement in “the drug business, pedophilia and child trafficking.”
Winfrey was among them, along with other big-name celebs like Quentin Tarantino, Tom Hanks and Ellen DeGeneres.
Another fabricated report was accompanied by a video of an alleged news reporter claiming the star’s home had been cordoned off by police and was being excavated for underground tunnels.”The Color Purple” actress later took to Twitter to set the record straight after learning she was the subject of bogus claims.
“Just got a phone call that my name is trending,” Winfrey tweeted. “And being trolled for some awful FAKE thing. It’s NOT TRUE. Haven’t been raided, or arrested. Just sanitizing and self distancing with the rest of the world. Stay safe everybody.”
It’s unclear exactly when or how the false claims started, but they are now thought to be linked to right-wing conspiracy QAnon, according to The Guardian. Hollywood filmmaker Ava DuVernay was among those who jumped to Winfrey’s defense, criticizing the “mean-spirited minds” and “trolls” for spreading such lies.
Thousands of Winfrey’s fans also flocked to her page with messages of support amid the madness. Meanwhile, others stuck around to tout more conspiracies and make jokes. See more reactions below: